CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Top three finishers transcript (part 2)

Continued from part 1 ERIC MAUK: We're going to excuse our second- and our third-place drivers. We will bring our champion in. Thank you very much, gentlemen. Congratulations again. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure and my honor to ...

Continued from part 1

ERIC MAUK: We're going to excuse our second- and our third-place drivers. We will bring our champion in. Thank you very much, gentlemen. Congratulations again.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure and my honor to introduce to you the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien led all 63 laps in winning today's race, the first driver this year to win wire-to-wire on a road course. His seventh win of the year, the 10th win of his career - his first win here at Mexico City. He also has 10 podium finishes this season.

He is joined to his left by Mr. Carl Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing, and your left, Mr. Paul Newman, the other co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing. These gentlemen are celebrating their fifth Champ Car World Series title today.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it cannot be better, to celebrate the championship by winning the race, having done the pole position and set the fastest lap of the race. It's just been a dominating weekend. I was so scared about, you know, not being able to give it a clear shot with an incident at the start or mechanical failure. Really a well-deserved championship for the whole McDonald's team and a fantastic achievement from the Newman/Haas Racing team. Really just a perfect day for us.

Really just scared myself and probably the rest of us when I spun the car going into the stadium. The sun was going down and the shade was gaining on the racetrack. I was trying to pass Mario (Dominguez). I thought he was going to let me by, and he didn't. Probably didn't see me. And then I hit the bump with the rear setup, and when it came back on the racetrack, basically the rear touched the grass and I spun immediately.

I was so afraid to kill the engine at that time that I kept my foot down, spun the wheel as hard as I could. When it came back under control, I was facing the tires, used the reverse and went back out again. It was just a scary moment for a minute or two, then it came back to normal. I'm so glad it's over.

ERIC MAUK: Can you tell us at what point during the race did you feel comfortable with where you were, or did you ever feel comfortable with where you were?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I was really comfortable after the start. You know, really, it was a fuel economy race for 10 laps or so in the first stint. And then after we had a strategy to go as fast as we could to try and enlarge the gap. That was working perfectly. The car was handling as well as we could imagine.

It's just that kind of day when really everything is going into place. I just cannot be thankful enough, you know, for Carl and Paul to give me the opportunity to drive in such a fantastic team. And, Craig (Hampson), thank you for all your work. My engineer, he's a pretty tough guy, but he's definitely the best this year, and we've been the best team overall. So it's just a fantastic feeling right now.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. The Newman/Haas team finished 1-2 in the championship, the first team in the Champ Car World Series to do that since 1998. Mr. Haas, your fifth champion, 1-2, you guys were the dominant team all year. Tell us why you think you were so dominant and how it feels to be sitting up here with a championship title again?

CARL HAAS: I guess we had a lot of good people, drivers obviously, Sebastien and Bruno, great team of engineers that we have, mechanics. A lot of them have been with us for a long time. Good sponsors. Knowing this kind of racing, the drivers were just superb all year.

ERIC MAUK: Mr. Newman, even from the very first training session we had this year, we saw you out at Sebring watching Sebastien and Bruno. Tell us a little bit about what you think makes Sebastien special and why you think he's done as well as you have.

PAUL NEWMAN: I'm glad I got a question. Usually the guy talking, everything has already been answered. Sebastien was quick from the very beginning, but more than that he gave really marvelous feedback to the crew. It was pretty quickly decided that he would drive for us if the pay was right. It was. And it's going to get better.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. We're going to have to talk about that (laughter).

ERIC MAUK: We'll let Mr. Haas and Mr. Newman go. They have a big night of celebrating planned for us. As many of you know, we have the awards banquet this evening to celebrate this championship. A round of applause for Carl Haas and Paul Newman.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you and congratulations. We'll now take questions for Sebastien, our new Champ Car World Series title winner.

Q: The last lap going into turn one, Alex (Tagliani) had to lock up his brakes not to hit you. Why were you pushing it so hard to pass him at that point?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, he didn't have to lock up his brakes to not hit me; he actually locked up his brakes not to hit Michel (Jourdain). He went wide. I was completely on the far right to try and be out of any kind of incident in the last lap. But, you know, when you have Paul Tracy behind you, you've got to be careful. I was not really going to take it easy. I was expecting a bit more cooperation from the guys in front of me, but it was pretty tough. Bruno was not very far. I had been stuck in traffic for the last stint pretty much. I was kind of frustrated that they didn't move.

You know, it was also a fight - probably going to say this is pretty ridiculous - but it was the fight for the Corona Cup. It was not only to win the championship, but for the Mexican Cup. I guess I really wanted to win it bad, and I think I showed it.

ERIC MAUK: As Sebastien mentioned, he also wins, by winning today's event, the $100,000 prize put up by Corona, winning the inaugural Corona Cup.

Q: Sebastien, could you take us through those final 10 or 15 laps when you were in the traffic, you knew Bruno was closing, so you needed to be aggressive to stay ahead of him, but yet not too aggressive to put your lead in -- to have the worst thing happen, which would have been to have an accident.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: These 10 laps absolutely may have been the worst of my whole career. You know that you can take it as easy as you want because you're still going to win the championship. I guess at some point it becomes a question of honor, you really want to win the race bad, and it's tough to give up. So I was in the middle of a big pack of traffic. The car after that was pretty difficult to handle. I've been running in clean air for the whole race, and all of a sudden you're in just completely different conditions.

I think for sure it was the dominant car because we could save a lot of fuel and still run away. But, you know, it only takes one mistake to ruin it. I was really afraid that anything bad would happen at the very end and I couldn't prevent myself, you know, from thinking about a crash or anything like that. I had that pictures coming to my mind. So I just drove hard and tried to keep concentrated because when you're try to take it easy, that's the best way to mess it up. So, you know, I'm really, really, really glad it's all over. I cannot be more happy really.

Q: You made a superb race from the beginning to the end. At some stage did you think maybe you wouldn't get the title today?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, when the gearbox started not to upshift from second to third at the end, I was feeling pretty bad in the car (laughter). Once every little while, this thing would come back to second gear when I wasn't shifting. I thought the dog ring was broken, maybe it was the case, I don't know. When you use the rear gear pretty violently as I did after the spin, you have a good chance to damage the ring or whatever, and to break it in two. That's pretty unfortunate. But I'm very happy that the thing kept running. That's the last thing, the worst scenario.

Q: We saw Paul Tracy actually pull over and let you go by. Did he actually wave you by? Did he indicate what he was doing?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. I think I used the 'push to pass' because I had plenty of time on it, and he saw me closing on him. But my seventh gear was a bit too long, because we had a fairly strong tail wind that we didn't plan on, you know, at the start of the race.

So I was hitting the rev limiter pretty much after the third quarter of the straightaway. So I really couldn't get the best out of the 'push to pass' at the very end. If the guys were not trying to ease a bit my pain, it was pretty difficult to make a move on anybody safely.

Paul was pretty kind to let me by when he saw I was very close to him. Then, you know, I was behind Tagliani, and it was not very easy either. It took every time between three and five laps to go by, and I knew Bruno was not very far. So it's always very frustrating, you know, when you're fighting for so big of a challenge at the end. You know, the win, the Cup, the championship, it's a whole lot of pressure on the 25-year-old guy.

ERIC MAUK: We've just been notified that the results of today's events have gone official, things can't go awry, and you are officially the 2004 champion.

Q: Have you ever been so dominant in an event in your life?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, in different series. Probably not here in Champ Car. I guess my first appearance in St. Petersburg in 2003 was very impressive, but we did not make it through. So, you know, when you don't put the win at the end of the weekend, it's not the same thing, I guess.

Q: Do you feel amazed to see that your six-second advantage over Bruno, are you surprised that six seconds remained after your spin?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, after that, I took it a bit easier really. I was trying to regroup myself and really keep my concentration. I don't know, it's really weird. I really rarely do mistakes like that, and I guess this time it's really a question of shade on the racetrack. When I went by the next lap, I had a good look at the racetrack, and actually there was a lot of shade gaining on the racetrack, and you could barely see the white line. I was really surprised I did that mistake, but I guess all that really counts is I recovered and I've been a lucky guy this weekend.

Q: How do you feel being supported by a person like Paul Newman?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: He's a great guy, you know. First of all, he's a nice man, sure. But he's really an honest and humble guy. He's working really, really hard for charities and for kids. I think if every superstar was doing as much as he's been doing throughout his life, maybe the world would be a little bit better, for sure.

ERIC MAUK: For those of you who may not know, he's not a bad race car driver either. Next week, he's going to go run the pre-event for the Baja event.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: 79 years old guy, not pretty bad, huh?

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, that will conclude our press conference today. Again, congratulations to Sebastien Bourdais. Thank you all very much for your attendance this weekend.

-ccws-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Carl Haas